Grouse double helps Ashby Ivanhoe win a thriller and keep up pressure on league's pacesetters
By Josh Kay
14th Nov 2022 | Local Sport
Ashby Ivanhoe 4 Droitwich Spa 3
Ashby maintained pressure on the top two after a thrilling victory over Droitwich Spa at the NFU Sports Ground.
Once again, it was Sam Grouse who took the game by the scruff of the neck with a fantastic brace, helping them on the way to victory last Saturday.
Grouse opened the scoring after just five minutes, poaching the ball from a Droitwich defender and squeezing it under goalkeeper Matt Oliver.
The visitors struggled with the low sun in the first half, and defensive mistakes would prove key throughout the half.
Despite continuing to pressure the Droitwich goal in the minutes after, it was the visitors who struck the next blow through James Lemon.
Droitwich's number 10 picked up the ball on the left and smartly chipped Tommy Dyche from a narrow angle to level up the match against the run of play.
Ashby could have felt hard done by as moments after the goal, George Teeney was flagged for offside when he appeared to be level with the defender.
This, alongside his point blank effort being deflected over the crossbar earlier in the half, made for a frustrating half for Teeney, who was not rewarded for his efforts in a half where he terrorised the Droitwich defence.
Ivanhoe's effort as a team however was rewarded before the break as Ash Garner gave them the lead with his fourth goal of the season.
His goal was a reflection of the relentlessness of his play style. Latching onto his own through ball as the defence failed to clear their lines, Garner poked the ball through the legs of Oliver and tapped home.
The referee allowed the game to continue, judging that the passes intended target Grouse was not interfering with play, to the dismay of the Droitwich players.
Ivanhoe should have furthered their advantage after the break. Amongst a host of opportunities for the hosts was a gilt-edged chance inside the six-yard box for Grouse who shot over bar after the ball bobbled in front of him.
As is often the case in football, the dominant side were made to regret their chances, as Droitwich equalised with 20 minutes to go.
Ashby's defence failed to clear Jack Brighton's looping sat piece, which caught out Dyche and ended up in the net. A killer blow for Ivanhoe, who were having an uncharacteristic off-day in defence.
Droitwich rarely forced Dyche into saves in the second half but were a constant threat on the counter attack. Despite this, Andy Gray's side only had eyes for three points and pushed on for a winner.
Their moment of magic came through substitute Will Groocock as the game approached injury time.
After a goal and an assist in mid-week, Groocock once again proved to be the difference, sprinting onto Garner's through ball and scoring after rounding the goalkeeper.
Buoyed by another incredible turnout from the home supporters, Ivanhoe all but wrapped up the match a minute later from the penalty spot. Garner once again at the centre of the move as he was brought down by Oliver, leaving Grouse to tuck away the resulting spot kick.
In a frantic final five minutes, the visitors would convert a spot kick of their own, but with little time left it was nothing more than a consolation, as Ashby ran out 4-3 winners.
''Delighted with the three points. It was a tight game, but to be determined enough to keep playing our way was important, and obviously everyone is happy'' said the Ashby manager Andy Gray following a breathless 90 minutes.
His side return to action on Wednesday night, making the short journey to Ingles in the MFL Cup.